The adage that everyone is unique applies quite well to babies' sleep schedules. No two babies are alike, and whether they nap longer or shorter is just another aspect of their individuality. That said, establishing a daytime nap routine will not only make your baby less cranky but also ensure everyone gets better sleep at night. If you have just started this parenting journey, here is what you should know about daytime naps, from how long they should be to whether you need a baby swaddle.
How Many Naps Do Babies Take a Day?
The number of naps your child takes depends on their age, even if every child is different. To start with, infants can't tell the difference between day and night, so they sleep around the clock. Your baby will just wake up to feed and then go back to sleep within the hour. This goes on for at least a month, and then they start being awake longer, mostly during the night before they adjust to normal sleeping hours.4-6 months: 3 to 4 naps (3-4 hours long)
Around 4 months, babies go through a sleep regression, where they feel the need to resist day naps. The child's body is constantly battling with the mind, so they have startle reflexes during sleep. This should stop in a few weeks, but they need help to nap in the meantime. You can try different tricks like taking a walk using a stroller, rocking them, and using a baby swaddle to soothe them to sleep.6-9 months: 2 to 3 naps (2-3 hours long)
Napping in this age group is not without its challenges as well. Your baby is trying to crawl or walk, and they have just found out the world is one big playing field full of toys and cartoons. Most days, they are too wired from excitement to fall asleep, but you have to make sure they take day naps. Again, a stroll around the neighborhood could help.9-12 months: 2 naps (2-3 hours long)
Your baby will usually take a nap after breakfast and another one in the afternoon. They will fight you through it and try to only get one nap a day, but they need two.
Why Does My Baby Only Take 30 Minute Naps?
As a parent, you can look at the above numbers and ask yourself, but why does my little one only take 30-minute naps? As we said in the beginning, every child is unique and doesn't have to follow standards. The real reason however is that young babies have short sleep cycles that last anywhere between 20 and 50 minutes. When your baby wakes up from one cycle, they may or may not transition into the next sleep cycle. Some babies are able to put themselves back to sleep immediately while others just wake up.
If it's any consolation, a 30-45 minute nap is still sufficient, and your little one will be refreshed. The only problem with this is, 30 minutes is not enough time for the mom to get some sleep or do house chores. Moms and caregivers need to rest too during the day because raising a child is exhausting, especially if they wake up several times during the night. So the next question becomes,
How Can I Get My Baby To Nap Longer?
There is no guarantee that your little one will transition naturally between sleep cycles without waking up. However, you can try one or two of these tricks to get them to nap longer because they have worked for us.1. Use the right wake windows
Keeping your child awake during the day is a balancing act that you need to master early. If the baby stays awake for too long, they get too tired, leading to short naps. If they don't stay awake long enough, they run out of sleep real quick. In general, if your baby wakes up in less than 30 minutes, it's because they are too tired. Babies who wake up after 45 minutes or so require a little bit more awake time to get tired.2. Create an optimum sleep environment
Your baby should take their day naps the same place they sleep at night. But since it's daytime, you need to take extra measures like putting on blackout curtains and adding a white noise machine to muffle outside noises. The temperature in your child's room should also be cool, so you can swaddle the baby without worrying they will overheat.3. Teach the child to sleep independently
If your child fell asleep in your arms or in a stroller, they will be surprised to wake up in bed when that first sleep cycle ends. This is why it's so important to put the child in bed, right before they fall asleep. Teach the child to sleep without you, and they will be able to self-soothe back to sleep.
Should I Swaddle My Baby for a Nap?
Have you ever heard people saying that swaddling a baby for daytime naps will make them think it's nighttime? Well, it won't. Your baby should be as comfortable when napping as they are when sleeping at night. Their circadian rhythm will ensure they don't sleep throughout the day, and you will be there too to ensure that doesn't happen.
Doctors recommend swaddling babies up to about four months to prevent the Moro or startle reflex that wakes babies out of a nap prematurely. Baby should always be placed on their back when swaddled. And you should stop swaddling baby when they start to roll over independently.
Velcro swaddles, also known as wearable blankets, are the most recommended because it's easy to place your baby in and zip them up. It also has wiggle room for the baby's legs and hips, so they don't feel too restricted. However, you can start with a wraparound swaddle for infants and then graduate to Velcro swaddles after a couple of months.
Since you will be using a baby swaddle a couple of times a day, it's important to have several options. You'll probably need at least three swaddling blankets so that one is on your baby, the other one in the laundry, and one or two extras. Swaddles are a great choice when buying used baby items. They're typically used for just a few months, so it's easy to find them in great condition. Just shop for quality and buy from a reliable local store or online from Toycycle's second hand baby store.
The undisputed truth is that babies need to take naps during the day to ensure they are not too tired to sleep at night. If your baby tends to take short naps, using a baby swaddle to keep them calm and prevent startle reflex will help them sleep a bit longer. It's a good idea to learn how to swaddle to keep baby comfortable and safe.